On the subject of...

Federal Politics

11
Jun
2018

ANU Disease Spreads; G7 Win for Trump

The refusal of the ANU to accept a course on Western Civilisation has “inspired” support from other academics. By contrast with the Vice Chancellor at the ANU, the VC at Sydney, Michael Spence revealed on June 5 he was considering entering into a memorandum of understanding with the Ramsay Centre to collaborate on a funded course and scholarship program. Dr Spence described the course as “really interesting” and “very, very far from the kind of thing you might imagine”. “It is all primary texts: there is certainly nothing like Harold Bloom in the curriculum,” he said, referring to the prolific but polarising US literary critic.(According to Wikepedia, Bloom has inter alia surveyed the major literary works of Europe and the Americas since the 14th century, focusing on 26 works he considered representative of the Western canon, which is] the body of books, music, and art that is widely accepted –but subject to dispute- as the most important and influential in shaping Western culture).
7
Jun
2018

ANU Programs, Abbott’s Priorities, Turnbull Wrong Again on CC, Iran Problem, Summit

My Commentary of 5 June suggested that the ANU should explain if programs funded by Arab money are free from attempts to persuade students of the benefits in the Koran. It appears that so far there has been no such explanation and Vice-Chancellor Schmidt has refused to interview The Australian’s rep (see ANU’s Program on Arab/Islamic Studies). However, according to The Australian report, the ANU’s Centre for Arab and Islamic Studies “has been at the forefront of contentious discussions around Middle Eastern politics and society with minimal backlash from its ­academics” and has received “sizeable donations from the United Arab Emirates and the governments of Iran and Turkey, frequently publishes ­articles supportive of a Palestine state and Iran, hosts lectures on ‘deconstructing the extremist narrative’ and ‘Islamophobia in post-communist Europe’, and has featured guest speakers who are critical of US policy”.
28
May
2018

Fallen Leaves; Royal Wedding; Lisa Moore in Melbourne

With a Newspoll due tomorrow, one of the leaders now faces possible “long days and winter’s song”. On the surface it appears that Shorten will be the principal singer as he has experienced a setback from his repeated advice that none of the Labor parliamentarians are subject to the dual citizenship test only to find that four are now subject to the five in by-elections to be held on 28 July. He also has to accept responsibility for the extensive alterations made to a transcript of an interview on Labor policy on how long asylum-seekers could be retained in detention. The altered transcript, which was “cleared” by Shorten’s office, showed that left-wing Labor’s human services spokeswoman Burney opposed indefinite detention but refused to say for how long detention could be under Labor policy on immigration.
14
May
2018

Polling on Budget & Bad Assessments by Commentators

Today’s Newspoll shows the Coalition still behind Labor on third party preference votes by 49/51 and indicates that only 41per cent think the tax-cutting budget was “good”. But the improvement in Turnbull’s Better PM rate to 46/35, compared with the 38/35 at the previous Newspoll, has led The Australian to present the poll as a major victory to Turnbull, to argue that the budget was “one of the most well-received …in a decade”, and to claim “the result maintains an electoral position for the Coalition that it has not enjoyed since September 2016”. It also says the result “builds momentum” for the five by-elections expected in early July (see attached Newspoll Shows No TPP Change on Budget).
10
May
2018

Disappointing Budget Assessment

A huge amount has been written about the 2018-19 Budget presented on Tuesday by Treasurer Scott Morrison as a 7 year plan to make personal income tax “lower, simpler and fairer” (see Morrison on Effect of Tax Cuts). But the proposed changes in the structure of the income tax system are not worth considering other than as possible thoughts for future budgets. There will be at least three more elections by 2025 and many thoughts raised or proposed about the structure. It is already apparent that the proposed changes in the tax treatment of those on high incomes will not get through the Senate and neither will the already proposed further reductions in company tax.
1
May
2018

No Iran Nuclear Deal, Tax Cuts

It is difficult to understate the importance of Israel’s “discovery” that, after in 2005 Iran signed a deal with the US (under Obama) and major European countries, it did not in fact comply with the agreed restrictions on its nuclear activity in return for the lifting of sanctions which included considerable US dollar “reserves”. The press conference by Israel PM Netanyahu and initial reactions from Trump are reported in Trump on Iran. This report appeared in my inbox at about 10 am this morning but was not mentioned on “our” ABC’s lunch time news. Another one for CEO Michelle Guthrie to explain.
23
Apr
2018

Coalition Still Behind

The slight improvement in the Coalition’s TPP (from 48/52 to 49/51) is scarcely something to write home about and did not reflect a “bounce”, as The Australian headlined it. The improvement might have been helped by Turnbull’s announcement of Commonwealth contributions to a railway to Melbourne’s airport and to two Queensland projects (see Newspoll 23 April). But it is not good tidings that Turnbull continues to fail to attract majority polling when his “jobs and growth” policy is consistent with what is actually happening in the economy, although not necessarily causing it.
20
Apr
2018

Energy Policy& China & Israel

Last night my wife and I attended an AIIA function to hear Rowan Callick speak about China under Xi. His analysis was truly alarming (see Callick on China). It seems that China is now run by the Communist Party even more than it was under Mao. I asked C what influence the military has on policy. He said that the previous military heads had been sacked and were replaced by those who were educated in the Communist line and this applies more or less across the board, including in the media. Just about every important organisation has been “communised”. At universities there are watchers who report on any dissidents and, at a recent discussion attended by students, seven cameras had been installed.
14
Apr
2018

Energy Policy Becoming Critical

In last Thursday’s Commentary I argued that there are serious problems with the outline of the National Energy Guarantee scheme given by Energy Minister Frydenberg in an article published in The Australian (see Frydenberg on NEG). These included the incorrect claim that the Energy Security Board is independent; the claim that NEG would restore faith in the electricity market when in fact it’s main operative conditions would be stipulated by the government; and the consequent false claim that it would be based on engineering and economics.